Monday, June 30, 2014

I (Heart) You, Malbec!

I think my heart is in Argentina.  No, I’ve never been there.  And no, there wasn’t a man who left me and traveled to South America (at least I don’t think so). But I am in love.  I have friends who travel to South America often.  They love the parties of Brazil and the women of the entire continent.  The intoxicating music and the festivals in the streets.  The cities don’t sleep.  Listening to them, it seems to be one big carnival all year.  And after I met my love, I understand why.   It must be the Malbec.  The medium bodied, fruit-forward, and luscious wine dances on the palette with flavors of blackberry and plum with a hint of soft tobacco on the finish.  Its ripeness is a result of the warm growing conditions of Argentina with low humidity.  Dry warm air and controlled moisture (irrigation) helps to grow a grape that is consistently plush and produces a wine with a velvety finish.  First planted in Argentina in the 1800’s, the country now grows more than 75% of the world’s Malbec.   It is quite the contrast to Malbec grown in France.  One of the 5 Bordeaux grapes, Malbec grown in France produces a more acidic juice with heavier tannins.  Still tasty and used in many red Bordeaux blends, it lends notes of black cherry. 

Malbecs from Argentina pair well with cheese (why do we drink wine with cheese anyway?) and lean meats.  I am not speaking from experience here because a good wine doesn’t need food (just my opinion).  I enjoy Malbec with the sunset, a fire, soft music, the silence.  It sparks my imagination and takes me to the streets of South America to enjoy the festivities with my friends.  I am in love with its magenta hue, the way that it smells, and how it bonds with my palate.  It makes me sing, “You’re All I Need”.  Malbec, I love you.  You’re the only thing that brings out the two words that I swore to never utter again.  I do. 

Thank you to my contributor, Dr. Willis!  Love you!!!

Special Announcement:  Wine Trip with The Vine and The Tipsy Sommelier
August 24, 2014, $95
Includes:  Bus transportation to 3 wineries, Cooper Vineyards, Wisdom Oak Winery, and First Colony Winery, all tasting fees, lunch and refreshments, and a helluva lot of fun!

For more information, please email for schedule, where to meet the bus, and how to pay.  More fun than you've had in a long time...we promise.


Monday, June 16, 2014

All This Time, I've Been Saying that I Don't Like Chardonnay

How can one grape taste so doggone different?  Well let me just tell you about my evolution.  I remember years ago when I started this life long lesson into wine, I couldn't stand Chardonnay.  My first experience was one that was over done in American Oak, giving me the mouthful of butter, making me long for a piece of toasted bread.  I remember it coating my tongue and making it very difficult to taste the next wine in the tasting order.  I remember the brand (but I won't say the name...but you wine folks will know it because it was the hottest brand selling back in the early 2000's). After that, I swore off Chardonnay.  As I continued to countless tastings, I would always skip the popular white wine.  I frequented the same wine shop every Friday so the owner got to know me quite well.  She noticed one day at a wine dinner that I always avoided Chards when she offered them.  Finally, she asked why.  At the dinner, she had a Chardonnay that she explained had been fermented in stainless steel.  My first thought was why would it matter.  Pleasantly surprised, this time I recognized more green apple and that it was quite a bit more acidic than the Chardonnays that I had come to know.  Okay, so I like steel fermented Chardonnays.  A few weeks later, I asked my server at a restaurant if the Chardonnay that I was about to select was oak or steel fermented.  He told me that it was French Oak. I guess that befuddled look on my face told a story that I had no clue what that meant.  Fortunately, he read me and offered me a taste before I made the commitment of buying a glass.  He explained that the French Oak wouldn't impart the buttery notes that the American Oak would.  What I found for myself was that I still got the green apple but it was softer.  The wine felt almost round in my mouth.  Hmmm, I liked this French Oak fermented Chardonnay.  Up until this point, almost all of the Chardonnay that I had tasted had come from California.  So imagine my surprise when I realized that this white wine that I was drinking from France was called Burgundy, and it was Chardonnay.  Wait a minute!  Everything that I knew (which wasn't much apparently) about burgundy was that it was a color in the red family so of course a Burgundy has to be red.  I had no clue that Burgundy was a region that produced some of the best grown Chardonnay in the world.  These white grapes from Burgundy, fermented in French oak changed my mind.  I love Chardonnay!  I had to share my experience through a wine class where I only featured Chardonnay just to show my friends who were still novices at the time that the process makes the difference.  And all this time that I've been saying that I don't like Chardonnay....clueless!

Hit us up on Facebook at The Vine Wine Club if you're interested in a Chardonnay Tasting Tour Class. Follow my evolution with friends!

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Grape Expectations

As you may know, Fridays are a big day for The Vine Wine Club because we taste wines to place in our shop.  We look forward to it!  Last week was filled with as much anticipation as the others Fridays.  There is a child-like excitement in the room as our rep pulls the samples from her bag.  My favorites tend to be the reds that I know that she's opened early enough in the day that they've been allowed time to breathe.  Last Friday, she pulled out an Amarone.  My absolute favorite.  Known for its full-bodied mocha richness, ripeness beyond regular harvest, and relatively high alcohol volume, I was bracing myself for this little touch of heaven in a glass.  As I tasted through the rest of the offerings, my mind stayed on what awaited me...what was certain to be the last tasting of the evening...the bottle that I was assured to finish later on that evening.  The process of making Amarone sets this wine a part and places it in an elite category.  The grapes are allowed to hang on the vines a little longer than other grapes.  When they are finally harvested, the grapes are placed on a screen to dry out even more, allowing the sugar to become more concentrated and the grapes to lose water.  When the grapes are finally pressed, the resulting juice is normally aged about 5 years.  When my Amarone was poured, my mind had already made up in my mind that it was going to be the best thing that I would have today.  Even though it wasn't as dark in color as an Amarone typically is and poured a little light, I was still anticipating greatness.  I wasn't so pleased.  I didn't taste that rich glass of raisins that I expected.  I didn't get that mouthful of ripeness that I anticipated.  Disappointed, I realized that I had just had my first experience of a bad year.  My educated guess was that 2009 had possibly been a wet year which would have presented a challenge for winemakers.  But what do I know?  What I did know is that this wasn't what I expected and I will wait for a better vintage for my customers.  You're welcome!

In case you are curious, it was a wet year.  I did some homework.


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